Life, my parents often told me, isnt fair. But President Barack Obama isn't so negative: yes it can be fair.
We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, our president informed the nation last week, in his annual State of the Union address, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
The implications of such fairness are immense.
And make no mistake about the meaning of President Obamas pronouncement for real change. The president went further, promising, No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.
Did you hear that? Surely, its not just a slogan. You can take that to your closest bailed-out bank!
So, what must the presidents diagnosis of our current State of the Union really mean? And what must be his proposed treatments?
For starters, Obama clearly says, we need to change our tax code so that people like [him], and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay [their] fair share of taxes.
Hear! Hear! Isnt it high time that, as the president asks, a billionaire must pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes?
Obama calls this the Buffett Rule after Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. The rule isnt about collecting the $1 billion in back taxes owed by Buffetts company — no doubt that check is in the mail, or will be after another decade of litigation with the IRS.
The Buffett Rule is simple: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And because were talking about fairness here, ladies and gentlemen, the rate must be 30 percent for everyone — just like secretaries, who apparently pay extraordinarily-high tax rates.
Were all in this together, after all. And we certainly dont begrudge financial success in this country, the POTUS told us. We admire it.
And fair is fair.
Now, some may be confused about the presidents precise definition of fairness, because he also promised that, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldnt go up.
Heavens to Betsy! We must all already be paying 30 percent like those rich guys secretaries! No wonder my wife keeps complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet.
But have no fear. There is a silver lining. Obama will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.
What does this mean for you?
In a nation of fairness, under BHOs new New Deal, were all going to be given hundreds of millions of dollars in government loans to go into business. Imagine a nation with possibly 300 million highly capitalized clean-energy businesses!
Before the assembled masses of official Washington, Obama informed us, In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the worlds leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Now, I dont know if the world needs such batteries — the lithium-ion battery manufacturer Enert just filed for bankruptcy after getting $119 million in federal government loans — but a loan that size sure will cushion us rich guys having to pay 30 percent of our (about to be sky-rocketing) income in taxes.
An unsettled question is just exactly how much is the right amount to loan to each new American clean-energy entrepreneur. Hard to say. But the now defunct Solyndra got $573 million to build solar panels and bankrupt Enert $119M, so somewhere in between sounds, well, fair.
The usual nay-sayers and Obama-haters will assert that these investments will flow to the well-connected. Granted, a recent report found that 80 percent of green energy loans the federal government has made thus far have been deposited by top donors to President Obama.
But that wouldnt be fair. And the new meme is fairness.
Plus, anyone can see from the State of the Union speech that the president has changed. For example, I was struck by Obama turning so completely against the welfare state per his unequivocal stand of no bailouts and no handouts. I would have never guessed hed make that commitment.
And, in fact, have you noticed the mainstream media is so shocked, theyve barely mumbled two words about this sea-change?
No more can opponents such as Newt Gingrich suggest that Obama is the food stamp president. Food stamps are clearly a handout, meaning, of course, that the program is over. And kiss Pell Grants and farm subsidies and housing subsidies and welfare (whatever its latest name is) and all the myriad other federal government giveaways goodbye.
It may take weeks or months — or perhaps it wont even be possible to end these various programs until closer to Election Day — but this is clearly the only direction for the new Obama nation. Its about time we embraced a fair deal, where no one gets bailouts or handouts on the backs of those working hard to earn a living.
Still, when President Obama accomplishes this fantastic feat — forming a system of fundamental fairness — what will parents tell their children?